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Systems > Habits

Written by: Ben Meer

Systems Thinking

5 MINS

Habits are the latest rage in self-development. Look no further than recent best-selling books on habit development. I’ve read them all. And I’m here to tell you…habit theory is just the beginning.

Don’t get me wrong: habits are useful. It’s simply that tech-enabled systems take habits to the next level.

Let me explain.

Habit theory occurs at the ground level—through the lens of a single isolated action. Take, for example, Charles Duhigg’s 3-Step Habit Framework (Cue, Action, Reward).1

Perhaps you want to build the habit of calling your grandma every Saturday morning. So you set a calendar reminder and call her. You're rewarded with knowing you made her day and the joy of feeling closer to her (despite her unsolicited advice about why you're not married yet).

What’s missing from habit theory is a framework for directing and organizing the positive forces of multiple interrelated actions. Whether those actions occur daily, weekly, or monthly. Whether those actions occur subconsciously or with intention.

Because it’s far too easy to let those Saturday morning calls slip without a system to reinforce them.

There’s little guidance on the best-repeated actions, the tech-enabled tools that can accelerate your growth, and methods for reviewing/optimizing your behavior.

In summary, we need a framework for:

  • Understanding the interplay of our repeated daily/weekly/monthly habits
  • Leveraging tech-enabled tools to work smarter, not harder
  • Reviewing and optimizing our progress.

If you’re looking for just that framework, you’ve come to the right place.

At System Sunday, we identify how we can make multiple positive habits work together—powered by tech-enabled tools and a method for optimizing—to become the best versions of ourselves

You see, the future will be led by individuals who embrace technology to reach unprecedented levels of human performance. This is a huge revelation for someone committed to realizing their potential.

If habits and systems were defined by equations, they’d look something like this:

Habit = Repeated activity

System = A collection of habits that share a common purpose + Tech-enabled tools (quantifying, tracking, automating) + Continuous Optimization

OK, let’s bring this to life.

Here’s a comparative example of Habit vs. System (in the context of a Wellness System):

HABIT SYSTEM (EX: WELLNESS)
1: A single isolated action
  • Running every morning
1: Habits that share a common purpose
  • Running every morning
  • Drinking the same number of ounces of water as pounds of body weight
  • Getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep
2: Tech-Enabled Tools (Quantifying and Automating)
  • Wearable device to track and automatically log your run
  • Smart water bottle for measuring hydration
  • Oura Ring to track sleep quality
3: Continuous Optimization
  • Weekly review of how many days you ran, how many liters/ounces of water you drank, and which days you weren't rested enough (with reflection as to why). You look back on the past week and figure out what you'll change next week.

All done?

As you can tell, I'm a massive fan of products that do all the tracking for me—so reviewing how I did last week is as simple as unlocking my phone and using my eyeballs.

I share the most game-changing systems in my weekly newsletter, System Sunday.

Footnotes

  1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Mike Chamberlain, et al., p. 19.

About the Author

Ben Meer writes about technology, systems thinking, and conscious living. Tired of non-actionable life advice, Ben started System Sunday to teach people how to use tech-enabled and data-driven systems to accelerate personal growth.

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